Meegla and Fargon's Not-So-Intergalactic Adventures: Part Eight
It was now incredibly late. Where most rescue missions would be aided by the cover of dark, these eight neopets felt a growing trepidation; they would soon be facing off against an organization that thrived under the cover of darkness.
The young Desert Scarabs filed out into the snow, decked in winter gear loaned to them by the current captain of the operation. Their entire bodies shook with the force of the cold, unused to the Terror Mountain climate after a lifetime spent in the hot Lost Desert sun. But they must persevere.
The group cautiously made its way along mountain ledges, bodies flattened to the snow-covered stone as they inched along. Eventually they came to a stop, bumping into one another, gripping the side of the mountain for dear life. They weren’t fatally high up, but Meegla had promised that a fall could render any one of them severely injured even with the fluffy snow to break their fall. As Meegla ran her paws along the side of the mountain where she stood, searching, the others glanced down, swallowing nervously as the pebbles upset by their feet fell without a sound.
“Ah ha,” Meegla couldn’t help but whisper when she found the entrance. She dug her hand hard into the layer of snow, gloved fingers gripping the hidden metal handle and twisting. The Desert Scarabs watched in awe as Meegla slid open the mountainside to reveal a secret passageway. “Hopefully they haven’t sealed off the other end of this tunnel,” she muttered. Nadine and Qival traded nervous looks.
Meegla gestured to the others to follow her into the shadows. All eight neopets squeezed inside and began to navigate the dark with arms outstretched and ears poised for disturbance. About five minutes in, the Korbat called out, “Wait!” They all halted as he stopped fluttering his wings and sat on the Skeith’s shoulder, listening carefully. “...At the end of the tunnel, there are people.”
“People in the tunnel?!” the Skeith asked, a little too loudly. The others shushed him.
“No,” the Korbat explained, “there’s a… a wall or, hopefully, a door. But outside that, I hear voices, very close by.”
“Are we almost out of the tunnel?” Meegla asked.
“Yes, but we’re sure to meet someone.” The Korbat paused, ears twitching. “Two or three someones.”
"That's no problem," Meegla said. "Come on, everyone."
"No problem?" Nadine hissed. "We're walking right into a brawl, and you think that's no problem?"
"He said there's only two or three of them."
"No wait," the Korbat corrected, "there's five of them."
"Still," Meegla insisted to the surely glowering Nadine, "we can take care of them. Remember. You've got me."
"You're so full of yourself," Nadine huffed.
"Soon you'll get to see why," Meegla assured her.
The group started moving again, more quickly than before. At the end of the tunnel was, in fact, a door. A quick touch told Meegla it was made of metal, and would likely be heavy; she very quietly directed the Skeith, the strongest of them all, to open it as quickly as he could.
Those Thieves Guild members milling about in the tiny room on the other side were, needless to say, very surprised when the door opened and their comrades did not emerge, but a group of kids headed by an Alien Aisha swinging around Ylana's Blaster. The confusion worked in the Scarabs' favor; two thieves, acting on a whim, simultaneously tried to steal Meegla's blaster with Green Sticky Hands, only to get them tangled up in each other. While they tried to pull them free, Heqet knocked them out cold and stole their daggers. Nadine, Qival and Meegla quickly incapacitated the others.
Meegla directed the group towards their given exits. "Remember your positions; me and Nadine are taking the South Wing. Don't lose the maps I drew up for you. If anything looks different, turn around and head in another direction. Just try your best to head towards your given dungeon - if you reach a dungeon and Fargon is not there, leave immediately. Don't try to fight everyone, but be ready to defend yourselves. Above all else, cover each other." Meegla met each of their eyes. "Are we clear?"
Nadine was tempted to tease her for being overprotective, but held back, noting the anxious fire in Meegla’s eyes. Everyone nodded before dispersing into their groups, heading out of different exits towards their respective looming corridors.
Fargon took a deep breath and tried again. Arms straining, body smashed up against the bars of his cell, he reached up and aimed the hairpin clasped between his fingers at his cell’s lock. He angled his arm, feeling his muscles start to hurt from the unnatural position. Come on, he thought, come on...
The door to the dungeon opened, startling him into dropping the hairpin. With a small, metallic sound, it skittered across the floor and far out of reach. He stared at it mournfully, too distracted to see who had just entered the dungeon. He figured he already knew who it was.
Taiy sighed angrily, kneeling down to swipe the hairpin off the ground. “I was wondering where this went…” While she fixed her silver braid, another neopet made his way to the cell.
“You’re the Gelert from before,” Fargon noted.
“Yes,” the Gelert replied, throwing off his hood to reveal his scarred face. “I am.”
“Hey,” Fargon said, squinting. “You look familiar. And really, really unique. Like I’m supposed to inherently know who you are.” The Grundo tapped his two-toned chin. “Are you on a TCG card?”
“This is Kanrik,” Taiy hissed. “He’s the leader of the Thieves Guild!” Despite his subordinate’s fuming, Kanrik himself didn’t seem offended that Fargon had failed to recognize him. In fact, he waved off the Grundo’s repeated apologies, assuring him it was no problem.
“According to my subordinate, your lips haven’t been very loose,” Kanrik said. When Fargon gave him a confused look, he elaborated. “You haven’t revealed any of Meegla’s secrets.”
Fargon frowned. “You know, I’m starting to think you guys don’t care about the Desert Scarabs at all. All you guys ever ask me about is Meegla!”
“Amazing,” Taiy droned. “He actually figured it out.”
Gaze darkening, Kanrik pulled a large dagger out of his cloak. It glinted in the light of the wall torches, making Fargon back away from his cell door in fear. “You’re right; I don’t care about the last of those Lost Desert urchins. I’m here solely to get you to talk about that so-called ‘captain’ of yours.”
“That’s a shame,” a familiar voice called out, “because the Desert Scarabs came all this way to see you!”
Fargon’s heart immediately lifted. Kanrik and Taiy turned towards the entrance of the dungeon. Fury painted the face of the guild leader; he, too, recognized that voice.
Meegla and Nadine came down the dungeon staircase, weapons poised. Nadine smiled when she caught Fargon’s eye, and pointed her Cobrall Dagger at Taiy. Kanrik had eyes only for Meegla. He didn’t move a muscle except to turn his head and watch her come down the staircase. When she reached the ground of the dungeon, he addressed her.
“Meegla,” he growled.
“Kanrik,” she said, more nonchalant. “Long time no see.”
Still gripping his dagger, he seemed to tremble where he stood. “I have searched for you for years. Is this your new face?”
“Suits my new interests,” she remarked. “I don’t spend a lot of time on Terror Mountain anymore. I’m more interested in freezing dark voids without all the snow.”
Nadine and Taiy were clearly ready to fight, but held back, waiting for a sign from Meegla and Kanrik. It was obvious that no battle could start before theirs. Fargon watched nervously from the safety of his cell, wishing that he could do something more than wait.
At last, Kanrik lifted the dagger that was hanging at his side and pointed it at Meegla. “I’m going to make you regret the day you left the Thieves Guild behind.”
Meegla stood a moment, pondering, before she pocketed her blaster, and pulled out a dagger of her own. Perhaps she was trying to be more fair; after all, you should never bring a dagger to a blaster fight. “Okay. Let’s fight.”
“Huh.” Nadine pursed her lips. “I kind of thought you were going to say something meaner than that.” Before she could push the issue, Taiy came at her, swinging her sword and forcing Nadine to defend herself.
They split off into their two separate fights. Taiy and Nadine fought closer to Fargon’s cell; even though he was protected by metal bars, he found himself flinching away every time their weapons made contact. Meanwhile, closer to the stairs, Kanrik and Meegla were still circling one another with daggers raised.
“I see your stance has gotten clumsy,” Kanrik growled. “I suppose now you’re more used to those silly trinkets of yours.”
“Blasters and ray guns are convenient,” Meegla replied calmly. “There’s less elaborate footwork involved.” With that, she lunged forward and swiped at Kanrik’s torso, only to be blocked. She pulled backwards, but he pursued, swifter than she anticipated. He made a jab at her shoulder, which cut her space suit before she could effectively jump away.
Nadine and Taiy fought closely, weapons clanging against one another’s constantly. The longer they went, the angrier the Bori seemed to get. “I’m so sick of fighting!” she snarled, charging at Nadine.
“Then why don’t you back off?!” The Xweetok successfully leapt out of her way, but because she hadn’t looked before she jumped, she landed hard against the bars of Fargon’s cell. Nadine immediately hissed, grabbing her injured shoulder. The arm that would normally grip her weapon felt too weak and too sore to lift it up very high, although she tried her best to raise her dagger and look menacing.
Taiy approached Nadine, sword gripped tightly in her claws, her eyes trained on Nadine’s heart. But before Taiy could reach Nadine, Fargon jutted his leg out between the bars and tripped Taiy, causing her to fall flat on her face. She dropped her dagger, too, which Nadine lunged for, and managed to grab with thief-like swiftness before the Bori recovered.
Fargon cheered as Nadine managed to incapacitate Taiy, tying her wrists with her own sticky hand. The Grundo and the Xweetok gave one another congratulatory thumbs up for their teamwork, and basked in the glow of their victory.
But it didn’t last long. When they turned to see how Meegla was doing, they saw her locked in a fast-paced battle she seemed ill-equipped to win. While Kanrik moved with certainty, knowing his environment well, Meegla stumbled and floundered, her instincts helping only just enough to keep her from getting mortally injured.
“They talked as if they knew each other,” Fargon said to Nadine, eyes never leaving Meegla’s fight with Kanrik. “They’re fighting as if they know each other.”
Nadine winced, eyes also trained on the fight. “Yeeeah… Apparently Meegla used to be a member of the Thieves Guild. Now they hate her or something, although I’m not entirely sure why, if all she did was quit.”
Nadine waited for Fargon’s gasp of shock, but none came. When she glanced his way, the little Grundo seemed resigned. “Yeah,” he sighed, “I kind of figured as much…”
Nadine’s paws flew to her mouth in horror when the Thieves Guild leader jabbed his dagger at Meegla’s chest and successfully cut a hole in the front of her spacesuit. The Alien Aisha leapt away, breathing heavily, her eyes fixed on Kanrik. She was really, really regretting not using her blaster right now…
To be continued…